At the Delta Police Department our Vulnerable Sector team deals with several clients who could be classified as chronic wanderers. One of our clients, suffering from dementia, has been found disoriented and lost or reported missing over 10 times in the last couple of years. Another client with a brain injury frequently heads out and then becomes disoriented as he attempts to return to his previous home where he no longer lives. Another, with Down Syndrome, has trouble communicating verbally and is unable to read and leaves his care facility when he becomes frustrated.
These situations cause considerable stress and worry for caregivers and, for police, can be a bit like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack.
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 6 in 10 people with dementia wander. For anyone with cognitive impairment, wandering can be very dangerous as, among other problems, the wanderer may not be dressed for the weather, may not have access to needed medications or food, and is more at risk of traffic accidents as a pedestrian. A person with cognitive impairment may not remember his or her name or address and can become disoriented and lost very easily, even in familiar surroundings.
In order to alleviate this stress for care workers and to assist police officers, the Vulnerable Sector team has been referring families of chronic wanderers to Project Lifesaver® and MedicAlert Safely Home®. Both are programs that put valuable information at the fingertips of family members and police in the event a loved or client one goes missing.
The Project LIFESAVER International (PLI) program helps provide rapid response to save lives and reduce the potential for serious injury to adults and children due to Alzheimer’s, autism, Down syndrome, dementia, brain injuries and other related disorders. Clients enrolled in the program wear a small transmitter on the wrist or ankle that emits an individualized tracking signal that can be traced by the Search and Rescue Team Members when they are notified that the person has gone missing. Recovery times for clients wearing PLI transmitters average 30 minutes!
The MedicAlert Safely Home program was developed by the Alzheimer Society of Canada. It provides a unique MedicAlert bracelet for people who wander. Should they ever go missing police can contact a 24 hr emergency number that provides details on possible locations and other vital medical and member information. Should the person be found wandering, they can be quickly identified by the information on their bracelet.
More information about Project LIFESAVER International and how to enroll can be found at http://www.sarbc.org/sarbc/projlife.html or http://www.surreysearchandrescue.com/projectlifesaver.html
More information about the MedicAlert Safely Home program and how to enroll can be found at https://www.medicalert.ca/safely-home
While there is a small fee for both services, the cost of the services often offsets the stress and time spent search for a lost loved one.
Home registration form